According to Nintendo's newest alternative gaming offering, my Brain Age is 34. This is not too bad for a 28 year old. The goal is to get one's brain age to 20. I don't know about you, but I was kind of a dipshit when I was 20. Dr. Ryuta Kawashima (yes, the Dr. Ryuta Kawashima) is going to be stimulating my pre-frontal lobes over the next few days until my brain becomes young enough to get bored with math and verbal exercises again. But since getting this title, and really since getting a DS, my pre-frontal cortex has been plagued by a persistent question:

Why does the gaming press keep calling Nintendo's unusual DS games "non-games"?

I refer specifically to Nintendogs and Brain Age, the big N's most well-known alternative DS titles (Elecktroplankton is another, but it actually isn't a game, rather a toy/music device). While they are admittedly unusual and definitely non-traditional, they are quite clearly games. They each have goals that are to be attained. In both games, the user earns points for activites, trainer points in Nintendogs, and the eponymous "brain age" of Brain Age. Both games have goals to achieve and require performing tasks and, in the case of BA, literally solving puzzles to accomplish them.

I think that the game press has sadly become so accustomed to particular themes in games that anything coming along with an unorthodox theme not involoving guns, cars or swords is classified as a "non-game". This is really unfortunate because what Nintendo is trying to do is appeal to people who have been uninterested in these traditional game themes. By classifying these attempts to reach out as "non-games", we're excluding those who might potentially be gamers. "Oh, you don't like many games, but you play Nintendogs? Well, that's not really a game, you know."


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